School will ease overcrowding in Riverchase

Several future students of Helena Middle School and their mothers were on hand Thursday to throw on hardhats and grab shovels so they could help break ground for the new school.

Eager parents and community members erupted in applause when Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller announced the board and city of Helena anticipate opening the school by the fall of 2008.

&8220;This is a great day for the city of Helena but most of all my heart goes out to all of you,&8221; Mayor Sonny Penhale said. &8220;This is something we really need, to help you mothers not have to get the kids up so early to go to school.&8221;

Currently students in grades six through eight attend Riverchase Middle, which is a farther drive than the new site located between county roads 91 and 52. The back of the school will face the Old Cahaba subdivision.

The building will relieve some of the pressure Riverchase Middle School currently feels with many classes crowded or being taught out of portables, said Fuller.

The school board already approved one access road to connect Shelby County Road 52 to 91, then 91 to 17. The city of Helena is working on a deal with the company that donated land for the school to pay for another access road.

&8220;We are trying to work on a deal to pay for the road with U.S. Steel,&8221; Penhale said. &8220;They owned the property and donated it to us to build the middle school.&8221; The estimated cost to complete the road is $1.4 million. Penhale said the exact details are still being worked out but that sales tax would likely repay the loan.

&8220;A certain percentage, say 50 percent, of sales tax would go to repay what the company loans the city from any commercial development along the roadway,&8221; Penhale said.

The school board will be paying for other items such as kitchen equipment, air-conditioning and ventilation and furniture for the building.

The middle school along with the cost of the new Calera High School will be paid over a period of 25 years, with $3.5 million in sales tax per year